Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Smoking Cigarettes & Sex in Trucks: Why I Love Southern Romances.

There's just something about the south. Being that both of us are southern girls we understand the bonafide difference of life below the Mason Dixon line. Whether it's the Tennessee mountains, Florida swamps, Louisiana bayous or South Carolina low country, there's just a different heat to a good romance story that gets its bones and pace from this sticky humidity. It's a dirty blues riff in a smoky honky tonk. It's a glass of sweet tea sweating on a front porch. It's a fan moving too slow, while hands go a little faster.

You see what I'm saying, right?

I cut my teeth on the trashy paperback romance. Not the bodice ripper historical, but The Sandra Brown. Where take no shit women come up against fiery dudes from Texas. Where we're hunting for oil and people are getting murdered and dumped in swamps and women are letting their hair loose and the curses fly and someone's got a rifle in their truck because shit is about to go down. It's good and it always builds to one hell of a climax.

So which books make you want to turn up The Black Keys, put your boots up on the dash and fall hard for the kind of man who wears jeans the way the good lord meant him to?

Here are some of my favorite cowboys:

White Hot White Hot by Sandra Brown
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

You've got to start with a classic. Sayre (don't ask me to pronounce it) is coming back home to her Louisiana town after having sworn never to return, because her dad is a powerful jerk face, but her brother committed suicide and she needs to come find out what the hell happened. Her dad is still an ass, and so is her older brother, but hey, now they've got a buddy. Who is looking at her and she is looking at him and I'm dying a little over the chemistry of it all.

Sayre and Beck are both fantastic leads, which is the hallmark of a solid Sandra Brown book. They're intriguing and they effortlessly draw you into their complicated world on the verge of exploding. Sayre is strong but vulnerable as she battles both her own and her family's demons. Huff is the tyrannical father, but as readers, we're invited deep enough to see how damaged he is and watch this mountain of a man fall apart as his world crumbles.

This one is a well written suspense surrounding the murder of Sayre's brother as well as the fall-of-Rome type conditions at the family's iron foundry. It's a twisty over the top sexy drama.

Blue-Eyed Devil (Travises, #2)Blue-Eyed Devil by Lisa Kleypas
My rating: 4 of 5 stars


That's all that needs to be said to want to read this story if you've ever read Sugar Daddy, the first book in her Travis' series. Am I right? Yes, of course, I'm right. I don't have the words to talk about Hardy. My chest gets all tight, and I start wondering when it got so hot in here and is that a truck rumbling in the distance? Jesus, I'm having a hot flash.

Hardy was our boy who made good in the last book, but got the short end of the stick in the name of wrapping up a childhood romance that wasn't meant to grow up. So you got your happy ending for the couple in the last book, but WHAT ABOUT HARDY?
This is his story. And God bless, Kleypas for it.
“Those blue eyes glinted with uncivilized suggestion. A faint smile was tucked in the corner of his wide mouth. Definitely wouldn't want to be alone in a room with that guy, I thought. His gaze moved downward in lazy inspection, returned to my face, and he gave me one of those respectful nods that Texan men had raised to an art form.”

Call Me Irresistible (Wynette, Texas #6)Call Me Irresistible by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This one is #6 in the Wynette, Texas series, that has included characters that honestly become bigger than life. SEP has a thing for the big, time-spanning romance and it feels like an old Hollywood epic. Her characters carve themselves deep regardless if you like them all that much at first, but you just end up knowing them so well. This book is coming back to a place that you already know filled with people you miss a whole hell of a lot.

Meg and Ted (Yes THAT Ted. Baby Beaudine grew up and he's so hot and smart and Texan and please, can I have him) have ridiculous chemistry and they are all kinds of messy perfect together, with their families interfering, and it's such good times to see all the relationships at work after all this time has passed. Wynette is still a crazy place with crazier characters and I want to be there in that bar. SEP writes such layered, fleshed out stories about love. There's just a sort of magic about a really good love story. And SEP is an effing wizard at it.
“He sounds like Jesus. Except rich and sexy.”
“Watch it, Meg. In this town joking about Jesus could get you shot. You’ve never seen so many of the faithful who’re armed.”

  Carnal InnocenceCarnal Innocence by Nora Roberts
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Here we are now in the town of Innocence, Mississippi. Yeah, you heard me. There's a killer on the loose with an eye for the pretty girls. And who happens to have a connection to all those pretty girls? Well, Tucker Longstreet of course. His family holds all the cards in this town, and his playboy style is better suited for a regency romance. I didn't think anything about Tucker would end up redeeming and the title made me expect a different sort of story. I expected cheese. Oodles of cheese, which has its place, so I went into it waiting for it. But I found myself in a really great story that had all of my favorite components of a southern murder mystery. Sexy protagonists, combustible chemistry, witty dialogue, in a lazy town with terrible gossips all simmering with a secret that's about to bust the place wide open.
"In a few months I'll be in Europe. A quick affair to pass a hot summer isn't in my plans."
The ghost of a smile lit his mouth. "You do make plans. I've noticed that about you." He stepped forward and crushed her lips under his in a hard, brief kiss that rocked her back on her heels. "I'm going to have you, Caroline. Sooner or later we're going to have the hell out of each other."

Have any favorite southern romances I just have to read? Well then shoot me a line! Bless your hearts and come on back.

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